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Values Of Design: China In The Making

Recurring event see all

November 22, 2020 @ 10:00 am 9:00 pm

Celebrating the power of design to innovate for our future

Exploring how design has shaped cross-cultural and cross-generational dialogue

Values of Design: China in the Making will be unveiled on 18 January 2020 in the V&A Gallery at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center. It will be the first exhibition in China to explore the growing field of Chinese design and the first to attempt to understand how changing and evolving values are helping to shape what we design, produce and consume. Initiated and curated by Design Society, in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the exhibition continues the success of the institutions’ long-term partnership, and is a follow-up to Values of Design, the inaugural V&A Gallery exhibition produced by the V&A in collaboration with Design Society in 2017.

The original Values of Design exhibition presented more than 250 objects drawn from the V&A’s extensive permanent collection – sourced from around the world and across a millennium – which questioned the relationship between how values inform design, and how, in turn, design shapes our values. In so doing, the exhibition touched on and highlighted some of the most important designers and design movements from the past, giving a global perspective on the subject through seven themed sections: performance, cost, problem solving, materials, identity, communication and wonder.

For Values of Design: China in the Making, Design Society in collaboration with the V&A have shifted the lens to focus on design developments in China to explore the changing design landscape in the country. China boasts a tradition of craft and artistry that stretches back thousands of years, yet the term ‘design’ is relatively novel, with varied definitions and interpretations. It emerged during a process of state modernization, and over the years designers in China have been learning from each other and testing out different approaches amidst an environment of rapid development and change. In this process, they have fused long-standing cultural practices with new innovations, finding unique solutions in response to a growing population, economic development, and the globalization of culture. The diverse expressions, experiments and strategies of design in China are contributing to the global conversation about innovation, sustainability, social equality – the values that shape our society today.

Values of Design: China in the Making showcases 138 works organized into six sections: Patterns of Design, Problem Solving, Shaping Materials, Identity and Consumption, Enhancing Communication and Negotiating Cost. Within these sections, the exhibition tackles diverse themes including crafts, industrial design, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, rural construction, sustainability, urban planning, transport, architecture, aerospace, fashion, feminism, brand culture, digitalization and font design, among others.

Exhibition highlights include:

– MAXAM toothpaste package designed by Gu Shipeng in 1962, represents an early generation of export brand design;

– FIYTA Spacemaster Z070 worn by Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, and the first 3D rendering of the moon taken by Chang’e 1 in 2007 indicate Chinese contribution to global space exploration;

– Model of the Chinese high-speed train (2011), China Railway High-speed empowers the economic development for the country;

– Solar lights (2016) produced by Solar Media and Solar Run Energy demonstrates uniquely Chinese initiatives in activism aimed at alleviating the hardships of impoverished rural groups;

– Model of Jishou Art Museum (2019) by Yung Ho Chang /Atelier FCJZ is inspired by local covered bridges, bringing about agile cultural values;

– Ma Yansong imagines future Chinatowns through the conceptual model of Superstar: A Mobile Chinatown by Ma Yansong/MAD Architects (2008), creatively criticizing homogenized cities in the process of globalization;

– Made with double-folding technique, Jamy Yang / YANG HOUSE’s Origami Sofa “In the Clouds” (2016) uses Tyvek’s soft surface and hardwearing quality, revealing possibilities brought by new materials;

Mobile Phone (2018), a conceptual outfit that is part of Timmy Yip’s Cloud series, using waste materials to evoke reflection on consumerism, environmental changes and the future;

– A video of Chinese virtual singer Luo Tianyi performing starlight (2019), representing icon phenomenon of Chinese young generation in the new technology era;

– A collection by Ellassay (2019), made using recycled nylon fabric from plastic waste found in the ocean, harnessing the power of fashion to raise awareness for public welfare and the protection of our oceans;

Ole Bouman, Founding Director of Design Society, said: “This project is pivotal to Design Society’s mission to not only show and communicate design, but also to collaborate on new avenues, new roles and a stronger impact of design in China. It expands on and deepens the discourse explored in Values of Design, and highlights the most topical clues for its relevance to Chinese design practice today. It once again brings home China Merchants’ ambition to provide with Design Society a platform for creative practice, and be an interface for global cultural dialogue.”

Zhao Rong, Curator of Values of Design: China in the Making and deputy director of Design Society, said: “Making design a catalytic social force is the mission of Design Society. We felt it is time for Design Society to testify values of design in China, especially under the current state transformation from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’. We are privileged to work with both leading and emerging designers and entrepreneurs in China, in presenting a more agile, reflexive and attentive approach to look at the world we are living in.”

Brendan Cormier, Advising Curator of Values of Design: China in the Making and Curator of Values of Design, said: “This timely exhibition, conceived by Design Society, offers an opportunity to celebrate and explore the latest trends and developments in China’s ever-expanding design sector. It’s been exciting to revisit the ideas explored in the original Values of Design exhibition and shift the focus across to China, delving deeper into the wide-ranging work and innovation taking place.”

Tim Reeve, V&A Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, said: “Two years on from the opening of Values of Design in the V&A Gallery, its successor Values of Design: China in the Making marks an important moment in our partnership with CMSK, as Design Society builds its own curatorial identity as a growing authority on design in China. The partnership has enabled the V&A to share collections, ideas and expertise with new audiences in China, and we are delighted to have supported Design Society colleagues in the creation of the new Values of Design, working together to promote new perspectives on design.”

As China’s first major platform for innovative design, Design Society has curated Minding the Digital, Craft: The Reset, and Y-COMIC-X. Values of Design: China in the Making once again sees Design Society examine the societal impact of innovative practices in design, explore the dynamic social relationships fostered by design and offer critical observations on its place within a Chinese context.

The exhibition has been designed by 2×4, an award-winning global design consultancy.

Design Society and the V&A also announce today that the V&A’s critically acclaimed exhibition Fashioned from Nature will tour to Sea World Culture and Arts Center, as a continuation of the partnership between the two institutions. Opening March 2020, the exhibition traces the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world with nearly 300 garments, accessories and objects spanning 1600 to the present, and will be complemented by a new section that spotlights pioneering contemporary Chinese art and design.

– End-

Notes to Editors:

Values of Design: China in the Making

Organizer: Design Society

In collaboration with: Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

Duration: 19 January 2020 – 20 December 2020

Venue: V&A Gallery, L1 Sea World Culture and Arts Center

Address: 1187 Wanghai Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen

Curators: Zhao Rong, Tang Siyun

Advising curator: Brendan Cormier

Assistant curators: Zhang Rui, Chen Pei

Opening Hours:


Monday – Sunday 10:00-22:00


Monday – Friday 10:00-19:00

Saturday – Sunday 10:00-21:00

Last admission: 30 minutes prior to closing.

Ticket information:

Full-admission: 68RMB

(concessions: senior citizens over 60 year olds, full time students and teachers 34RMB; free admission for 0-6 year olds with mandatory parental accompany; Design Society members)

Early-bird: 38RMB

(available before 19 January)

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About Design Society

Design Society is an innovative cultural platform founded by China Merchants Shekou (CMSK), with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) as its founding partner. It has already built an extensive network of partners, contributors and supporters from China and around the world, across academia, business, governmental affairs and education, as well as through collaborations with major museums, residential programmes and archival institutions. With the advice of industry experts, the growth of this network demonstrates the overlapping creative practices – closely bound to society and industry – vital to the sustainability of Design Society. An extensive membership programme offers exclusive industry opportunities and career acceleration activities, elevating Design Society as a leading resource on both a local and international scale.

Design Society has curated Minding the Digital, Craft: The Reset, Y Comic X? and Values of Design: China in the Making. Our learning platform Design Society EDU takes Design with the Society as its mission, encourage audiences to make, create and connect with design.

About Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity, spanning 5000 years of human creativity. It was established in 1852 to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, its purpose is to champion creative industry, inspire the next generation, and spark everyone’s imagination.


About Design Society and the V&A

The V&A is the founding partner of the not-for-profit Design Society Foundation. This pioneering collaboration between CMSK and the V&A was the first of its kind between a Chinese partner and an international museum. The collaboration comprises the provision of professional advice and training, and the concept, development and design of a V&A Gallery devoted to international design.

About Sea World Culture and Arts Center

The Sea World Culture & Arts Center operated by Design Society opened in December 2017. It has become an important cultural landmark in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, and has been creating diverse cultural experience for the public. As the only building designed by Fumihiko Maki in China, the Sea World Culture and Arts Center embraces three horizons of the sea, the mountain and the city, houses exhibition spaces at the Main Gallery, V&A Gallery, Park View Gallery, and Shenzhen UCCN Center; a world-class concert hall Mountain View Theater and a multi-functional space Horizon Hall with a panoramic sea view of the Shenzhen Bay. Its creative ecology of exhibitions, public events, shops and restaurants, has participation and interaction as guiding principles. People can shop, watch, play, participate, or relax and be nurtured.

The Sea World Culture and Arts Center was listed Top Gallery in Shenzhen by Lonely Planet (2019) and Top 100 Greatest Places of the World by TIME (2018).

About China Merchants Culture Industries

China Merchants Culture Industries, a subsidiary under the listed China Merchants Shekou and 147-year-old China Merchants Group, focuses on cultural industry investment and operation. Committed to the mission of “empower urban upgrade: better culture, better life”, it strategically positions itself as a comprehensive urban-upgrade service provider, and aims to become a domestic leading cultural-scene synthesis operator.

About CMSK

China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings Co., Ltd (CMSK, stock code:001979), a flagship subsidiary under the China Merchants Group, a leading state-owned enterprise under the direct supervision of the central government, is dedicated to comprehensive urban development. It is also the Group’s asset integration platform for real estate and important business collaboration in China. Committed to be “the better life carrier”, CMSK develops comprehensive solutions for urban development and industrial upgrading and also provides diversified products and services covering full life cycle. 

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1187 Wanghai Road, Shekou, Nanshan Shenzhen 深圳 南山区蛇口望海路1187号
Shenzhen, China
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